The year 2020 is almost over. We asked Dammis van der Staaij of the Staay Food Group about the impact of the Corona year and the biggest challenges for the next five years. An interview about Brexit, Corona, root ball lettuce and red Conference pears.
The greatest impact on Staay-Van Rijn in Venlo
"We cannot complain under circumstances, but Corona also had a major impact on Staay Food Group. People become ill and social interaction with each other is severely restricted. And it makes it very difficult for the catering industry and the trade just has to wait and see. The supermarkets, on the other hand, are selling well and the processing industry continues to perform well. Among our branches it has had the greatest impact on Staay-Van Rijn in Venlo. A large part of their turnover is made in the German food service, where our people have to do their utmost to keep turnover up to standard. At Staay-Hispa we focus, among other things, on the retail and processing industry. These are showing good growth. "
A few years ago, Staay Food Group lost a large export market as a result of the Russian boycott. When asked which countries and markets have taken this up, Dammis replies: "The loss of Russia has significantly changed the entire European fruit and vegetable trade. In addition to the disappearance of a large sales market, certain products from higher segments were also better valued in Russia than in Russia. Western Europe. We have been able to shift our focus and thus also recovered turnover. We are still building and climbing in this area. We are also well prepared for the approaching Brexit. We have a full in-house forwarding and customs department, which ensures a lot of knowledge. Together with our partners in this field, we are ready in time to continue full service after Brexit thanks to intensive consultation. "
Spinach cultivation at the Spanish cultivation company Savasun, where Ad van der Staaij is in charge
With the start of indoor lettuce cultivation, Staay indicated that it wanted to further roll out this cultivation technique regionally and internationally. "We are the exclusive distributor of Delissen who grow beautiful rootball lettuce in their greenhouses using city farming technology. We sell this lettuce in the Netherlands and the countries around us. With the vertical farm project in Dronten, we have really done pioneering work. I am exceptionally proud of this. With the planned scale we were in retrospect, perhaps a bit too far ahead of time. We have gained a lot of knowledge that is now useful in our own cultivation. We invest in this cultivation and in our growers in order to further strengthen its position as fruit and vegetable supplier with its own cultivation and an extremely short chain. We also continue to look for cultivation partners to expand this further. "
In the past period, many investors have turned to Dutch agri-food companies. Van der Staaij has also noticed this interest. "We are regularly approached by such parties. You notice that we are garnering extra attention with our own cultivation and short chain." When asked about great opportunities for Staay Food Group towards 2025, Dammis is happy to quote the red Conference pear for which it has exclusive sales in the Netherlands and is working in Europe together with the Belgische Fruit Veiling (Belgian Fruit Auction). "This red pear, available all year round, will be on the market between now and 2025. Given the high demand for red fruit, a lot is expected from the Red Conference."
Dammis van der Staaij (right) with Joop Vernooij at the Red Conference plantation
"Furthermore, one of the few positive consequences of the corona crisis is that people want to eat fresher and healthier food again - and preferably also want to know where it comes from. We can of course play into this well. At the same time, Corona crisis will cause a recession that no one needs. Just keep going and take your chances," concludes Dammis, who finally wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a great 2021 in good health.